Are you wanting to expand your family and have your heart set on having a little boy? While it may seem taboo to admit you have a preference for the sex of your unborn child, it’s OK to admit your dreams. We won’t share your secret with anyone!

If you haven’t yet conceived, you may have heard rumors about things you can try to influence the sex of your baby. Perhaps you just started searching for ideas to help you have a baby boy. What are some things you can try? Are some methods more effective than others?

We understand that “sex” and “gender” are terms that are evolving in our world, so before going any further, we’d like to clarify that when we talk about the sex of a baby in this article, we’re only talking about the baby’s chromosomes, the XY combination that is thought of as male.

Thus, the “sex” mentioned in this article is determined by the sperm contributing a Y and the egg contributing an X.

As to whether there’s a guaranteed way to influence your chances have a boy — no, there isn’t. Short of medically implanting an embryo that is known to be a boy, there are no guarantees when it comes to the sex of your baby.

In general there is approximately a 50/50 chance of having a boy or girl if things are left to nature. It all comes down to which sperm wins the race, and millions of them are racing.

That’s where the idea the influencing the sex of your future child comes in. Some argue that by using timing, position, diet, and other methods you can alter the odds in favor of the male sperm.

Interestingly, one 2008 study of 927 family trees indicates that whether you’ll have boys or girls may actually be determined by the father in more ways than one. Not only do chromosomes in the sperm dictate the sex of the baby, but some fathers may be predisposed to have more boys or girls.

According to this study, men may inherit a tendency to have more boys or girls from their parents, which may mean that some men produce more Y or X chromosome sperm. Thus, if a man has more brothers, he may also have more sons.

If you really want a boy, there are suggestions that some parents will tell you worked for them. None of these suggestions are scientifically proven to guarantee results, but people try them hoping to improve the odds in their favor.

Diet

For starters, you may want to consider what you’re eating as you try to conceive. While this concept has not been widely studied or substantiated (so take these suggestions with a grain of salt), researchers in a 2008 study of 740 women found an association between taking in more calories and conceiving a boy.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should wildly increase your portion sizes and nosh throughout the day as you try to conceive. Keep in mind that healthy eating habits now (whole foods, fruits and vegetables, low-sugar snacks) will help you continue to take in the appropriate number of calories when you’re pregnant.

The women studied also consumed higher levels of potassium. (Want to eat more potassium? Try bananas, sweet potatoes, and white beans.)

The study also noted that “Women producing male infants consumed more breakfast cereal than those with female infants.” So go ahead and pour yourself a bowl!

The Shettles method

Another suggestion to increase your chances of having a boy is a conception plan called the Shettles method, which was developed by Landrum B. Shettles around 1960.

Shettles studied sperm to determine what might impact the speed of the sperm. (After all, the sperm that wins the race and fertilizes the egg determines the gender.) He considered timing of intercourse, positions, and the pH of body fluids to see which may have an impact on gender.

Key points of the Shettles method include:

  • sex close to ovulation
  • sperm deposited close to the cervix using positions allowing for deep penetration
  • alkaline environment in the vagina
  • woman having an orgasm first

How effective is the Shettles method? Well, it depends who you talk to. Shettles claims an overall 75 percent success rate in the current edition of his book, and there are plenty of people who claim that they successfully conceived a boy or girl using his method.

On the other hand, some older research found that sex 2 to 3 days after ovulation may not lead to pregnancy at all. And another (also dated) study suggested that X and Y chromosomes do not have the meaningful shape differences Shettles believed existed.

Looking for more reliable ways to increase your odds? Depending on your circumstances and the availability of these options, there are medical interventions you can try.

However, these treatments can be expensive and mentally and physically taxing. They also come with risks, from surgical complications to miscarriage and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Therefore, they’re generally not suggested for sex selection without a medical need.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) allows people to conceive a child through medicalized procedures. Some of these methods include: in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).

Through a process called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or preimplantation genetic selection (PGS) it’s possible to use IVF to create embryos, test these embryos for their sex, and implant an embryo with the desired sex into the uterus.

This essentially guarantees that if all goes well with the pregnancy you’ll have the little boy (or girl) you’ve been dreaming of.

Considerations for sex selection

It’s important to note that while PGD/PGS is allowed in the United States, this process is illegal in many other countries like the United Kingdom and China unless there is severe medical grounds.

While it’s possible for people to travel to another country to have the procedures done (and many people do so), the high cost and extra complications involved may make it less appealing.

One reasons lawmakers have given for making PGD/PGS illegal is a fear that parents will choose to have a disproportionate amount of boys or girls. Having a population with too many male or female babies could result in problems with future population growth.

In countries that ban sex selection, one suggestion has been to limit PGD/PGS to medical issues and “family balancing.” This would require families to have a child of the other sex before they could decide on a future child’s sex.

Perhaps an even greater reason lawmakers have seen to limit PGD or make it illegal are the ethical concerns involved. This is a complex and emotionally-charged subject. It’s important to explore your own feelings and discuss your options with your doctor.

It’s natural to imagine your future child, and have hopes for what they’ll be like. However, it’s important to keep in mind that determining the sex of your baby is not usually within your control.

Remember every child is unique. Just because you have a little girl does not mean that you have to give up hopes of the fun things you imagined doing with a son. Likewise, just because you are successful in your quest to have a little boy does not mean life will be exactly what your imagination predicted.

If you find yourself feeling extreme disappointment, resentment, or struggling to bond with your child for any reason, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider or a trained therapist to help you work through your feelings.